For Immediate Release
Utah Drivers Urged to Prepare for Heavy Solar Eclipse Traffic This Weekend
I-15 expected to be the primary route for tens of thousands of travelers
SALT LAKE CITY (Aug. 16, 2017) – The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) urges Utahns to plan ahead for heavy delays throughout the state this weekend as travelers from across the western United States drive to Idaho and Wyoming to view the solar eclipse this Monday, Aug. 21.
As many as 50,000 additional vehicles are expected to travel through Utah this weekend. On an average day, approximately 200,000 vehicles drive on I-15 in Salt Lake County. Northbound traffic will be heavier than normal beginning Friday afternoon and continuing through Sunday evening, with heavy congestion expected from Brigham City to the I-84 split in Tremonton.
The heaviest delays are expected on Monday evening when return traffic from the eclipse coincides with the southbound commute. UDOT recommends that drivers rethink their trips and avoid traveling on southbound I-15 during this time if possible.
Across the state, most UDOT projects along I-15 – such as the repaving from Brigham City to Honeyville – will suspend construction and open all lanes to traffic to help reduce delays. A few projects will have traffic shifts in place, or will have minor work that should not affect drivers. In St. George, between exits 4-5, lanes are shifted and narrowed and the speed limit is reduced for a widening project; and shoulder work is scheduled on I-15 south of Fillmore for bridge maintenance.
UDOT recommends that drivers prepare for conditions and consider the following tips when planning travel this weekend:
- Keep a full tank of gas. Traffic may make it difficult to access gas stations, and in rural areas fuel may be in short supply due to heavy demand.
- Bring extra food, water and snacks.
- Expect spotty or nonexistent cellular coverage.
- Do not stop on roads or park on shoulders to watch the eclipse. Stopping on highways – even on the shoulder – is unsafe, and can make it difficult for emergency vehicles to respond to incidents.
- Plan to spend extra time before returning home. While traffic engineers expect travel to Idaho and Wyoming – areas within the eclipse’s path of totality – will be spread out over a few days prior to Monday, the biggest surge in traffic is planned for Monday afternoon and evening. Choosing to stay a few hours, or even a day later, can help reduce delays and create a more enjoyable trip.
Construction schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change. For the latest information on traffic restrictions during construction, visit the UDOT Traffic website (udottraffic.utah.gov) or download the UDOT Traffic app for iPhone or Android. Drivers can also follow UDOT on social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.